Etoposide

Etoposide treats testicular cancer and a certain type of lung cancer. Etoposide can cause sores in the mouth and throat.

Etoposide Overview

Reviewed: November 6, 2012
Updated: 

Etoposide is a prescription medication used to treat small cell lung cancer and testicular cancer. Etoposide belongs to a group of drugs called podophyllotoxin derivatives, which slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.

This medication comes as a capsule and is taken by mouth. It is usually taken once a day for 4 or 5 days in a row. This cycle may be repeated once every 3 to 4 weeks, depending on your response to the medication.

This medication comes in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein (IV) by a healthcare provider. It is usually given in cycles, once a day or every other day, for up to 5 days.

Some of the common side effects of etoposide include nausea, vomiting, hairloss, and low counts of certain blood cells.

Patient Ratings for Etoposide

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What are you taking Etoposide for?

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  • Other
  • Brain Neoplasms
  • Histiocytosis
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute
  • Lung Neoplasms
  • Mycosis Fungoides
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Sarcoma, Ewing
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi
  • Testicular Neoplasms
  • Trophoblastic Neoplasms
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms
  • Uterine Neoplasms

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  • A month or so
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Etoposide Cautionary Labels

precautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautions

Uses of Etoposide

Oral/Injectable:

Etoposide is a prescription medication used to treat cancer of the testicles that has not improved or that has worsened after surgery and treatment with other medications and radiation therapy. Etoposide is also approved to treat small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Etoposide is used in combination with other chemotherapy medications.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

 

Etoposide Brand Names

Etoposide may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Etoposide Drug Class

Etoposide is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Etoposide

Oral/Injectable:

Etoposide may cause serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. See "Etoposide Precautions."

The following side effects were reported during clinical trials:

  • lower than normal levels of red blood cells, white blood cells and blood platelets
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • low blood pressure
  • severe allergic reactions (anaphylactic-like reactions)
  • reversible hair loss
  • stomach pain
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • sores in mouth and throat
  • liver toxicity
  • unusual tiredness
  • eye pain

This is not a complete list of etoposide side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

 

Etoposide Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

This is not a complete list of etoposide drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Etoposide Precautions

Oral/Injectable:

Etoposide can affect the ability of the bone marrow to produce red and white blood cells as well as platelets, potentially leading to serious side effects such as anemia, infections, and bleeding. Your doctor will order laboratory tests regularly before and during your treatment.

Tell your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • chills
  • sore throat
  • body aches and pains
  • cough and congestion
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • bloody or black, tarry stools
  • bloody vomit 
  • vomit resembling coffee grounds.

Etoposide can cause a serious and potentially life-threatening allergic-type reaction. Tell your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • fast or irregular heartbeat

Abnormally low blood pressure can occur if this medication is administered too quickly. Signs of low blood pressure include dizziness and fainting.

Etoposide may increase the risk that you will develop other cancers.

Etoposide Food Interactions

Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of etoposide there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving Toposar.

Inform MD

Before receiving etoposide, tell your doctor if you:

  • are allergic to any ingredient in etoposide
  • have kidney or liver disease
  • have anemia
  • have an infection
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Etoposide and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

This medication falls into category D. Etoposide may harm your unborn baby and is generally not recommended for use in pregnant women. In some circumstances, the benefits of this medication to the woman may outweigh the possible risks to the unborn baby.

If you become pregnant while receiving etoposide, tell your doctor right away.

Etoposide and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. It is not known if etoposide is excreted in human breastmilk or if it will harm your nursing baby.

Etoposide Usage

Oral:

Etoposide comes as a capsule and is taken by mouth. It is usually taken once a day for 4 or 5 days in a row. This cycle may be repeated once every 3 to 4 weeks, depending on your response. The length of treatment depends on the types of drugs you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer you have.

Take etoposide at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully. Take etoposide exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Injectable:

Etoposide is a liquid medication that is infused (slowly injected into a vein) by a healthcare provider in a medical facility, in combination with other chemotherapy medicines. The infusions usually last 30 to 60 minutes. Etoposide is usually given in cycles - once a day or every other day for five days, followed by a three or four week break. The number of cycles you receive will be determined by your healthcare provider.

If you are experiencing potentially serious side effects, your doctor may reduce your dosage or interrupt your therapy.

Etoposide Dosage

Oral:

  • In small cell lung cancer, the recommended dose of etoposide capsules is 2 times the IV dose rounded to the nearest 50 mg
    • For example: two times 35 mg/m2/day for 4 days to 50 mg/m2/day for 5 days.
    • The dosage should be modified to take into account
      • the effects of other drugs in combination, or
      • the effects of prior x-ray therapy

Injectable:

  • The etoposide dosage is highly individualized and is based on the cancer being treated, your height and weight, how well your body responds to the medication, and other medications and other medical conditions you have.
  • Cancer of the Testicles
    • The etoposide dose ranges from 50 to 100 mg per m²  a day for 5 days to 100 mg per m²  a day every other day for 3 doses (days 1, 3, and 5 of a treatment cycle).
  • Small Cell Lung Cancer
    • The etoposide dose ranges from 35 mg per m²  a day for 4 days to 50 mg per m²  a day for 5 days.
    • Doses are reduced in patients with kidney disease.
 

Etoposide Overdose

If you take too much this medication, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If this medication is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

Oral:

  • Etoposide capsules must be stored under refrigeration 2° to 8°C (36° to 46°F).
  • The capsules are stable for 36 months under such refrigeration conditions.
  • Keep this and all other medications out of the reach of children.

Injectable:

  • Keep all infusion and laboratory appointments and notifiy your doctor right away if you have to reschedule an appointment. Etoposide works best if given on schedule.

Etoposide FDA Warning

Etoposide should be administered under the supervision of a qualified physician experienced in the use of cancer chemotherapeutic agents. Severe myelosuppression with resulting infection or bleeding may occur.